1. Alain Prost
2. Nigel Mansell
A solid effort from Ferrari and with a little less bad luck the team could have taken the Constructors’ title. The Ferrari 641 was a lovely little runner and was arguably a better car than the McLaren. It certainly was the only car to consistently challenge McLaren for form all year. A frustrating year for both drivers, though, with Prost missing out on his fourth title in gut-wrenching fashion and Nigel thoroughly dispirited by his constant breakdowns, if mollified by an uptick in late-season form.
3. Satoru Nakajima
4. Jean Alesi
The innovative and striking 019 chassis could never quite make the most of its potential thanks to the limitations of its Ford engine and – if we’re being brutally honest – of the journeyman Nakajima. Jean Alesi certainly put himself in the shop window with some great drives and the team will look forward to having top-of-the-line Honda power in 1991. Alesi will leave big boots to fill, but Ken Tyrrell is a good talent-spotter.
5. Thierry Boutsen
6. Riccardo Patrese
A disappointing season in all, though there were high spots with a win apiece for their two drivers. The Renault engine is not only powerful but good at laying its power down consistently, but something was just not quite right with the FW13B chassis that prevented two talented drivers using it to the full. There has also been a sense that, good though Boutsen and Patrese have been, there has just been a “star quality” lacking and the return of Mansell for 1991 could bring better results.
7. Gregor Foitek / David Brabham
8. Stefano Modena
A bit of a dismal year for the veteran team all told, with Modena’s fifth place at the season opener in Phoenix proving the only points all year with David Brabham looking distinctly out of his depth and often failing to qualify. Judd’s engines have proved underpowered and unreliable this year but a switch to Yamaha for 1991 may be a jump from frying pan to fire given their previous record with Zakspeed. The team can at least look forward to the return of old boy Martin Brundle.
9. Michele Alboreto
10. Alex Caffi / Bernd Schneider
Two talented drivers in Alboreto and Caffi came into 1990 with high hopes after the team’s good showings in 1989 but with the same chassis and engine, it just goes to show that to stand still is to move backward: with seven DNQs and just two points over the season, it was a pretty forgettable year. The Footwork concern’s naming-rights sponsorship for 1990 will help with the finances, and the incoming Porsche engine is rumoured to be powerful.
11. Derek Warwick
12. Martin Donnelly / Johnny Herbert
After a third disastrous season in a row – and one that very nearly ended in tragedy – there is a very real danger that the venerable Lotus team might fold over the winter. No sponsors, no engines and no drivers for 1991 have yet been announced, and there are rumours that all is not well on the management front either. It would be a shame for such a great name to die and race fans everywhere will hope something happens soon.
14. Olivier Grouillard
Another season of the same for the hard-trying Osella team, with just four finishes, none of them in the top ten, and seven DNQ and DNPQ results. After a decade of effort with nothing to show for it, rumours are that Enzo Osella is finally ready to sell up, and that Gabriele Rumi, head of main sponsor Fondmetal, is interested. Remains to be seen what will come of the team over the winter.
15. Maurício Gugelmin
16. Ivan Capelli
A dreadful start to the season saw the bright blue cars fail to qualify on a number of occasions before designer Adrian Newey figured out a glitch in the wind tunnel that had been feeding them false data, and corrected it – before leaving the team. After a sudden brilliant race in France where the cars ran first and second for lap after lap and Capelli took a great second place, Newey’s absence was felt as the team sank back into midfield obscurity thanks to the underpowered Judd engine and reliability problems.
17. Gabriele Tarquini
18. Yannick Dalmas
Everybody respects the little French garage team for continuing in F1 on such a small basis, but the statistics don’t lie: the AGS cars troubled the grid just nine times in 1990. A new car brought improvement after Mexico, before which the team had only got through Pre-Qualifying once, but it still wasn’t enough to achieve anything of note. Will they make it to 1991?
19. Sandro Nannini / Roberto Moreno
20. Nelson Piquet
Best season yet for the “United Colours” with a solid third place in the Constructors’ race, two back-to-back wins at the end of the season and their first 1-2 finish in Japan. The loss of Nannini will be a blow to the team but Piquet looked revitalised and happy again after his two years in the misfiring Lotus, and the team will look forward to 1991.
BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara-Ford
21. Emanuele Pirro / Gianni Morbidelli
22. Andrea de Cesaris
Just seven finishes (one of which was then disqualified) all year tells its own story: the Dallara was simply shockingly unreliable. The Ford engine was solid enough, if not the fastest, but between a lack of money and staff for good car preparation and de Cesaris’ wayward tendencies, there ended up not being much chance of scoring a point. They will want to do better next year.
23. Pierluigi Martini
24. Paolo Barilla / Gianni Morbidelli
The little Minardi team will be disappointed not to have scored in 1990 after a pretty productive 1989. Paolo Barilla’s pasta money couldn’t make up for looking completely at sea in F1 and failing to qualify five times, and Ferrari test driver Gianni Morbidelli might be a good shout for next year, when the team can look forward to being the first to receive customer Ferrari engines. Do good times beckon?
25. Nicola Larini
26. Philippe Alliot
Another barren year for the “French national team”, despite having one of the more reliable packages out there: Alliot hasn’t done much to redeem his reputation for being a mobile roadblock, and has been disqualified twice and failed to qualify once, but even when the team dropped into Pre-Qualifying, Nicola Larini finished 13 of 16 races and came agonisingly close to scoring twice. Lamborgini engines beckon for 1991: they haven’t helped Lotus that much, but the Lola looked tidy this year so who knows?
27. Ayrton Senna
28. Gerhard Berger
One Drivers’ and one Constructors’ title, neither delivered in exactly the manner that Ron Dennis would like, and the team won fewer races than Ferrari this year. If a double-winning season could be said to be a disappointment, then McLaren’s 1990 is just that. Gerhard Berger, something of a firebrand at Ferrari, looked disappointingly anonymous here and the team will hope for more from the Austrian going forward.
29. Éric Bernard
30. Aguri Suzuki
Even before Suzuki’s historic and thoroughly merited podium finish at Suzuka, the Larrousse team were already having a pretty good year: they had already scored points five times, with a double top-six finish in Britain – not bad for a team that started the year in Pre-Qualifying. The difference in performance between the two Lambo-powered teams of Larrousse and Lotus has been interesting, but neither will have the engine next year.
31. Bertrand Gachot
Such a shame for a talented driver like Gachot to be shackled to an uncompetitive whale like the Coloni. Even after ditching the porky, asthmatic Subaru engine, performances barely improved and if it weren’t for the even worse times of the EuroBrun and Life teams, Gachot would probably never have made it through PQ, even in the new C3C chassis. As it was, he never once troubled the starters.
33. Roberto Moreno
34. Claudio Langes
Of all the odd decisions in the sport of F1, that of the EuroBrun squad to double down on failure and expand to two cars in 1990 is one of the oddest. And for them to then essentially ignore number 2 driver Langes makes you wonder why the bothered. A freak 16th place in USA qualifying was the highlight and by the mid-season Walter Brun was also wondering why he bothered. EuroBrun folded after three years, no results and just in time to give the long-suffering Moreno his shot at the big time.
35. Stefan Johansson / Gregor Foitek
36. JJ Lehto
The saga of the Onyx team, which flamed briefly and then flamed out just as quickly, would make a good movie, if it weren’t just too improbable to be true. The team seemed to promise a comeback for Johansson, only to devolve into court cases and mudslinging. Gregor Foitek’s credibility seems fatally wounded – bought the drive by his dad, who then withdrew funding when the car looked dangerous. About the only one left with reputation intact is JJ Lehto, who simply got his head down and drove. Hope for better things for the Finn.
39. David Brabham / Bruno Giacomelli
Hahahahahaaa. Hahahahaha! Ahahahaha!
Now that the season is over and this farcically inept team with their ludicrous concept of an engine have miraculously managed not to kill anyone (largely by dint of spending most meetings stationary with bits all over the garage floor) we can laugh. Hopefully the experience of Life – along with Onyx and EuroBrun – will prove a lesson to businessmen everywhere that you can’t just buy into F1.